Words About Music
Tim Hecker “Virgins”
For over a decade, Canadian musician Tim Hecker has been making some of the best music ever recorded and no one has been paying attention. He originally started recording under the name Jetone, but made the switch to using his given name in 2001 with his debut album “Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again.” Ever since, Hecker has been recording experimental ambient music that is not only consistently incredible, but also stretches ambient music far past the lines Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Boards of Canada took it to in the 90s. He has used elements of drone, noise, and other avant-garde techniques to craft his sounds, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful or awe-inspiring. While some of the albums in his discography are better than others, 2011’s “Ravedeath, 1972” is seen as a definite highlight. Tim Hecker has basically been on a hot streak for over 10 years, yet he’s not quite reached the outside-of-the-internet popularity that other ambient artists have achieved, which is unfortunate since he is better than all of them.
Hecker has always put a lot of himself into his work, making it feel much more emotional than groups like Autechre, who sound like a computer descending into madness, or Boards of Canada, whose anonymity keeps them separated emotionally from their fans. Tim Hecker is a creative genius and arguably one of the most important figures in contemporary music, yet he seems to get more critical praise than he does album sales.
With “Virgins,” we are hearing some of the most pristine, gorgeous, layered songs we’ve ever heard from Tim Hecker. Sometimes it sounds like a classical composition played backwards, other times it feels like the best Explosions in the Sky album ever, but it always has a piece of Tim in it. Every crescendo, every rhythmic glitch, every unidentifiable instrument; all of the parts come together in a very relaxing yet interesting way. If the man we’re dealing with here is anything, it certainly isn’t boring. And “Virgins” is as good an example of that as any. Keep in mind, this is the man’s seventh studio album in a period of 12 years, not even counting the EPs, Jetone albums, and the 2012 collaborative album with Oneohtrix Point Never.
This is the kind of album that inspires art films or happy endings. It amazes me that Tim Hecker hasn’t done any soundtrack work yet, because I couldn’t possibly picture an ending happier than one that takes place over a Tim Hecker instrumental, especially one of the ones from “Virgins.” This album is uplifting, awe-inspiring, and more human than plenty of albums I’ve heard this year. Electronica, glitch, ambient, and several experimental sounds bring this album to soaring heights, with the sounds fitting together like a puzzle. While some of the pieces that are contained within these songs may not make sense by themselves, when everything comes together it’s a perfect fit.
Seven albums and 15 years into his career, Tim Hecker is slowly on his way to becoming one of the biggest and best musicians there ever was. Without even saying any words on any of his records, he remains inspirational and completely original. Some sounds terrify, other sounds are nostalgic, and others are worthy of tears, but when all those emotions are brought together piece-by-piece in a way this compelling, it’s really hard to deny this kind of talent.
SCORE – 9.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – Virginal I, Radiance, Live Room, Live Room Out, Virginal II, Black Refraction, Incense at Abu Ghraib, Stigmata I, Stigmata II, Stab Variation